My name is J.P. Soliz Molina, and I manage Thomson Reuters development team in Cochabamba, Bolivia where our team has been developing our OpenTitle software since 2009. This software system is used by governments and non-government organizations around the world to document, record, and map land rights.
I am very proud to share this blog post from USAID describing a project right here in Bolivia led by Mercy Corps that Thomson Reuters has supported with OpenTitle. As described in this blog, our technology is being used to document and map land rights so that disputes over land may be settled and clear title established.
For many people in Bolivia land rights are not recorded. But for the government, after many years of trying to improve the land administration function, many difficulties and challenges remain.
For many years I have worked on international projects, and have helped other countries organize land information. This career has been very rewarding, as one of the main problems resulting from having undocumented or unclear rights to land is a continuous cycle of poverty that so many people are trapped in. Violent conflict, as result of disputed claims to land, is also an unfortunate common outcome. However, through my work I have directly witnessed how securing land rights benefits people and communities.
I have focused a lot of attention over the last few years developing OpenTitle. When you are working in your office, writing code, reviewing software requirement documents, it’s easy to lose perspective of how this product we are developing actually impacts people. Supporting a project in my home country of Bolivia, using the software we developed, has been the realization of a personal goal. This project has been very special to me and the Bolivian development team that I manage, as we are helping our own country better organize land rights. Hopefully this is only the beginning.
For many in our country, uncertainty of land ownership and the lack of clearly defined boundaries prevent people from the desire to invest in improving the lands they occupy in fear that others will claim that land. They lack the security under legal processes because land rights are not recorded, or worse those rights are disputed. Because of this lack of security, they will not invest to improve production, such as in better irrigation systems. It also means that people cannot gain access to credit. People are using the land for pure survival substance farming. This is the cycle of poverty I mentioned in which people become trapped.
For the team here in Bolivia, the impact of our software development work hit home when we saw the results of how people had documented, mapped, and recorded their land rights. Television news, newspapers, and radio outlets shared the success. Now that communities are using the software to identify their own lands, one realizes software goes beyond technology and really impacts peoples’ lives so directly. And we are proud to be a part of that effort.